Dunedin, April 15, 2pm. Reigning champion Richard Mason has only to drive around the special stage at the Forbury Park trotting track to clinch Leg 2 and overall victory in the Otago Rally.
He'll need to be carful, though. He's less than four seconds ahead of Gilmour in the battle for Leg 2 honours.
The BNT Subaru Impreza WRX STi driver heads back to Dunedin City and the horse racing venue with solid leads over Gilmour (WRX) in both Leg 2 and the overall rally (Mason won Leg 1, from Gilmour, yesterday).
It will be the perfect start to Mason’s title defence. The only glitch along his way to a dominant win came this morning when Gilmour passed him for the lead after Mason’s Subaru lost power because its intercooler water sprayer was blocked.
He repaired that and took a second off Gilmour in every kilometre of the next special stage. He was also fastest on SS13 and SS14 which he won by 4.6 and 5.6 seconds, both times from Gilmour.
As the cars head to Forbury Park, Junior rally champ Hayden Paddon runs third for the leg and third overall in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.
Colin McRae who had been third yesterday and during the early stages of Leg 2, has dropped back to seventh place after his WRX developed centre diff problems. He had fallen to eighth but with the car restored to develop more power he has clawed back a place.
Sam Murray is fourth is his WRX, and Chris West is fifth after an excellent drive in an old technology Evo 6.5. West has been troubled for much of the day by what he thought initially was a slipping clutch but which he suspects may be a viscous diff problem. “A clutch would have given out by now,” he said at Waihola after SS12.
Then come Dylan Turner (Evo 9), McRae, Callum McInnes (WRX), and Stewart Taylor (Evo 9) who survived a hairy moment in SS12 when a pacenote was miscalled and the Lancer left the road and got stuck in a fence. “It was called as a seven and it was four,” he said.
Patrick Malley (Lancer Evo 8) completes the top 10.
Mark Tapper leads the Ford Fiesta challenge class, and Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz-Type R) leads Kiwi 2 from Dave Strong (Honda Civic).